Germany 1, United States 0
Germany beat USA 1-0 on a rain-soaked day in Recife, a result that takes both sides through from a highly competitive Group G at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. A 2-1 win for Portugal over Ghana in the section’s other game was enough to push both the Americans and Germans through on four and seven points respectively. The final whistle brought a joint celebration from the teams on the pitch at the Arena Pernambuco.
The Germans dominated the opening quarter-hour. The European giants pressed forward with power and speed, perhaps eager to squash suspicion that both sides would play for a mutually-beneficial draw. Jerome Boateng flew up the right side and the early plan of attack become clear for the Mannschaft: isolate US left-back DaMarcus Beasley.
The only remaining USA veteran of the famous quarter-final game in Ulsan at Korea/Japan 2002, the one-time flying winger is now a defender and one-on-one defending is not his strong suit. A number of dangerous crosses came from Beasley’s side in the early going before he came to grips with the game.
USA had very little possession of the ball in the first-half and they were clearly set up to break on the counter-attack. Their best chance came in the 22nd minute. Brad Davis, the MLS set-piece specialist with Houston Dynamo, was playing in his first-ever World Cup game and he rewarded the faith Jurgen Klinsmann showed in him when he raced across the pitch from right to left and fed the ball to Graham Zusi. The pony-tailed winger’s wicked curling shot from the edge of the area stretched Manuel Neuer but kept rising over the bar.
USA coach Klinsmann is not afraid to shake things up. He’s chopped and changed his side in every game here in Brazil and the man who won the World Cup as a player with Germany in 1990 and coached them in 2006, turned to a new centre-back for this crucial fixture. Omar Gonzalez had played only one minute in the Stars and Stripes’ two games, but he started this one. His headed intervention early in the second-half denied a clear scoring chance for substitute Miroslav Klose at the back post.
But Gonzalez, despite being a full stretch, could do nothing about the German goal in the 55th minute. US keeper Tim Howard denied a header from Benedikt Howedes, but his punch found the feet of Thomas Muller who curled his effort home for his fourth goal of the finals.
USA finish second in the group and will now meet the winner of Group H, likely to be Belgium at this point, in the Round of 16. The group-winning Germans take on the second-place finisher from that same section.